Aki banzuke crystal ball


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My Nagoya banzuke predictions turned out to be reasonably accurate. This last basho created quite a mess, and a less predictable banzuke––I don’t envy the guys who have to make the real thing, which we will get to see on August 28. I’m going to take a crack at it anyway.

Upper San’yaku

Y1 Hakuho Harumafuji
Y2 Kisenosato Kakuryu
O1 Takayasu Goeido
O2 Terunofuji  

No change in the Yokozuna pecking order after Nagoya. The real question is whether we will have more than one Yokozuna start, much less finish, the next basho. Takayasu takes over the top Ozeki spot after putting up the only reasonably solid Ozeki performance at Nagoya. Goeido and Terunofuji are both kadoban, and I hope Terunofuji can recover from his persistent injuries.


Lower San’yaku

Usually, this part of the banzuke is relatively predictable. Not so this time. Kotoshogiku drops out of San’yaku for the first time since 2010. The only certainties are that Mitakeumi will hold the S1e slot, and that Yoshikaze will remain in San’yaku after going 9-6 at Komusubi. Otherwise, there’s quite a logjam for the remaining slots, and a lot of uncertainty as to who will end up where. The contenders:

Tamawashi, who went 7-8 at Sekiwake and will drop at least to Komusubi after four tournaments at the higher rank.

Tochiozan, who had a great tournament at 12-3 as maegashira 5, defeating an Ozeki and both Sekiwake along the way.

Aoiyama, the Jun-Yusho and special prize winner, who went an amazing 13-2 as maegashira 8, but didn’t beat or even fight anyone of note until his defeat of a fading Yoshikaze on the final day.

Tochinoshin, who more than held his own in the meat grinder as maegashira 2, fighting all the big guns and defeating a Yokozuna, an Ozeki, both Sekiwake and a Komusubi on his way to a 9-6 record.

By the numbers, I would rank-order the 5 contenders for the 3 slots behind Mitakeumi as  Tochiozan, Yoshikaze, Aoiyama, Tochinoshin, Tamawashi, placing Tochiozan in the S1w slot, Yoshikaze and Aoiyama in the Komusubi slots, and leaving Tochinoshin and Tamawashi out in the cold. However, being in San’yaku confers certain privileges: Yoshikaze probably gets first dibs on the Sekiwake slot, and Tamawashi is unlikely to drop lower than Komusubi despite coming in last on the list above. Judging by past history, none of the performances were sufficiently strong to “force” the creation of extra San’yaku slots. So I’m going to go with the prediction below, much as it pains me to leave out Tochinoshin.

S Mitakeumi Yoshikaze
K Tochiozan Tamawashi

The Meat Grinder

I’m going to include the M1-M4e ranks here. Along with the San’yaku, this group makes up the “joi” or upper ranks, and regularly faces San’yaku competition (as we saw in Nagoya, the exact “joi” boundary is fuzzy, and changes during the tournament after withdrawals and, to some extent, based on performances to that point).

The meat grinder ranks actually acquitted themselves relatively well in Nagoya, unlike the disasters of the previous two basho. Tochinoshin and Hokutofuji both earned their kachi-koshi, and each deserves to be one rank higher up the banzuke, but there isn’t room. Onosho should find himself at M3 after two extremely impressive 10-5 tournaments following his Makuuchi debut. He seems unintimidated by anyone, and may hold his own despite his lack of experience. Chiyotairyu and Shohozan put up the only other solid records in the mid-maegashira ranks, and find themselves vaulting up the banzuke from M10.

M1 Tochinoshin Aoiyama
M2 Hokutofuji Kotoshogiku
M3 Onosho Chiyotairyu
M4 Shohozan

Mid-maegashira

The rest of Makuuchi was a mess of of make-koshi records, ranging from bad to worse, and some weak kachi-koshi performances among the lower ranks. This makes it difficult to come up with a fair and consistent rank order. Rikishi with 7-8 records in a weak field are especially hard to place, as their computed rank may suggest a promotion, which as far as I know is never done for kachi-koshi records. One can start by dividing the rikishi into groups of similar projected rank, and then worry about the order within each group.

Group 1, M4w-M5w: Ura, Shodai, Takakeisho.

Everyone’s favorite Ura managed a 7-8 record at M4e despite being thrown into the meat grinder prematurely and getting injured as a result. Shodai and Takakeisho each went 5-10 at M1. It would be reasonable either to place Ura at M4w, with the other two at M5, or to flip this order. Given that Ura went make-koshi, that he was under-ranked last basho, and that Shodai tends to get over-ranked, I have a feeling NSK will do the latter, despite Ura’s slightly higher computed rank.

Group 2, M6: Ichinojo, Kagayaki.

Ichinojo put up another lackluster performance, going 7-8. He should drop in rank, but there are no other reasonable contenders for M6e. Kagayaki has the best claim of the rest to M6w.

Group 3, M7-M9: Ishiura, Ikioi, Chiyoshoma, Takanoiwa, Chiyonokuni, Takarafuji.

A mix of poor records higher up the banzuke and better records quite far down the banzuke. Ikioi, Chiyoshoma, and Takanoiwa deserve bigger drops in rank, but Chiyonokuni and Takarafuji did not earn this much of a promotion. Ishiura actually has the best computed rank, and deserves the M7e slot, but since he went make-koshi (7-8) at M8w, he can’t be ranked any higher than that. The main question in this group is whether to place him at M8w, or move him below the two kachi-koshi guys, Chiyonokuni and Takarafuji. As with Ura, I’m opting for the lower rank.

Group 4, M10: Arawashi, Takekaze.

This is straightforward: M12 guys both went 8-7 and move up to M10.

Group 5, M11-M12: Daieisho, Chiyomaru, Daishomaru, Kaisei.

This order drops Daishomaru (M11w, 7-8) below Chiyomaru (M15w, 9-6), but keeps him above Kaisei, the top Juryo escapee.

M4 Shodai
M5 Takakeisho Ura
M6 Ichinojo Kagayaki
M7 Ikioi Chiyoshoma
M8 Takanoiwa Chiyonokuni
M9 Takarafuji Ishiura
M10 Arawashi Takekaze
M11 Daieisho Chiyomaru
M12 Daishomaru Kaisei

Lower maegashira, promotions, and demotions

Sadanoumi and Nishigiki earned Makuuchi stays by going kachi-koshi. Endo and Okinoumi suffer big drops but should be safe. Gagamaru earned a quick return to Juryo and should fall far down the Juryo banzuke, while Kotoyuki also definitely earned a demotion. Yutakayama and Asanoyama should definitely join Kaisei in Makuuchi, one of them at the expense of Sokokurai. This would mark a Makuuchi debut for Asanoyama. I think that Myogiryu will claim the last promotion slot, which will be vacated by Tokushoryu, and that Aminishiki will just miss out on promotion.

M13 Sadanoumi Endo
M14 Okinoumi Nishikigi
M15 Yutakayama Asanoyama
M16 Myogiryu
J1 Aminishiki Tokushoryu
J2 Sokokurai

Nagoya Aftermath – How We See It


Goeido Down

Day 15 put an end to a Nagoya basho that marked a further evolution of a trend that started with Hakuho’s injury a year ago. At that time, it was clear that “The Boss” was damaged, and no one knew if he was going to be able to return. Hakuho has been such a dominant force in sumo for an extended period of time, and his internal presence at the top of the banzuke set the rules for every basho for years.

With his win at Nagoya, Hakuho has managed to achieve back to back yusho after surgery and an extended recovery period. How long will his new reign last? Hakuho hopes at least 3 years, as he has stated yet again that he wants to perform a dohyo-iri as part of the 2020 Olympic ceremonies immediately following the Nagoya basho. His achievement of coming back after most fans (and it turns out the YDC) thought he was done, drew comment from the committee in their post basho meeting at the Kokugikan. They have decided to give Yokozuna Hakuho a special award for breaking the all time wins record and being the Michael Jordan of sumo. I am going to assume he needs to buy a shed to keep all of this stuff in. Maybe he can have Ishiura build him one with parts from Tokyu Hands.

We are in a transitional period where the old guard is either fading or staging their last mad surge of glory. We now have the next generation (I call them Tadpoles, because they mostly share the same body shape), in Makuuchi, and they are getting comfortable at the higher levels of competition. We guess that would be one of the stories at Nagoya, and it turns out it was a big continuation of the evolution in sumo.

Winners

  • Aoiyama – Jun Yusho! Congrats, prepare for your brutal fisting at Aki.
  • Takayasu – You did not choke in your first Ozeki basho. Rest up that pulled groin and bask in the fact that your peers are both kadoban.
  • Tochiozan – Not sure where that came from, but please, can we have more of this version of Tochiozan? He’s great. Calm, calculating, patient. He dismantles his opponents methodically.
  • Onosho – Two basho in makuuchi, two 10 win results. That’s big stuff. Get in line behind Aoiyama at Aki, you get to play with the big guns.
  • Ura – Yeah, you ended up with a make-koshi, but you survived a trip through the upper ranks without doing too poorly, and you got your first kinboshi. Excellent work expanded your sumo repertoire! Go heal up that knee and come back healthy.
  • Tochinoshin – When your healthy, you can really unleash some great sumo. It was great to see you genki again. I just know you are one more tweak to that knee away from being a breath away from intai.
  • Nishikigi – Never give up, never surrender. Fighting spirit like yours makes the sumo world go ’round!

Losers

  • Goeido – Kadoban again? You won Aki 2016 in a clean sweep! You are a fantastic Ozeki when you are in your groove, but it’s getting harder for you to find that groove.
  • Kakuryu – The YDC is talking about Aki being your last chance. It had to happen some time, please get well soon.
  • Terunofuji – I hope you did not damage that freshly repaired knee. Sumo needs you big kaiju.
  • Kisenosato – No, you can’t “naturally” heal a torn pectoral. Get your giant self to a surgery and get rebuilt.
  • Okinoumi – I wish there were some way you could get that painful injury repaired without retiring from sumo.
  • Gagamaru – Again we ask, “what are you doing in Makuuchi?”
  • Ikioi – Everyone wants you strong and ready to fight. Do you have one last run in you?
  • Kotoyuki – Either you get healed up, or you fade away. The modern sumo schedule is brutal, and it’s tearing you apart.
  • Kotoshogiku – You continue to fade, your spirit is strong but your body is failing your sumo. You make me sad now to watch you fight.

Thanks to all the readers who gave us yet another record breaking month. We are eternally thankful for you spending part of your day with us, and we hope you tell your friends and family about the joy of sumo. Onward to Aki!

Nagoya Day 13 Highlights


Hakuho-1048-NSK

Hakuho Takes The Record, Aoiyama Remains One Behind

Day 13 brought the long expected celebration of yet another record to Yokozuna Hakuho’s name. The sumo world is rightly celebrating the man and his great achievements. Hakuho’s excellence may have saved sumo on more than one occasion, and the fact that he continues to dominate the sport this far into his career is a testament to his love of all things sumo.

On the eve of his record achievement, the Japanese press began to talk of Hakuho taking a step he has resisted this far – seeking Japanese citizen ship and securing an enduring role in the sumo kyokai. Hakuho loves being Mongolian, but in the past several months, there has been discussions between the kyokai and Team Hakuho about his future. While we are all enjoying seeing the greatest rikishi in modern times continue to win match after match, the day when he will retire is not so very far away. What will sumo do to continue to bask in the publicity and excellence that Hakuho brings to the sport?

Meanwhile, the man mountain that is Aoiyama was declared the winner in a strange bout with Kagayaki. Rather than try to describe it, I encourage readers to watch it via Youtube (Kintamayama) or the NHK feed later today. With his win, he remains at 2 losses and is in a position to contest for the yusho against Hakuho should the Yokozuna manage to lose any of his upcoming matches against Harumafuji or Goeido. On the extreme outside range of likeliness, there is a bizzare chance that there could be a Hakuho / Aoiyama play off on the final day. Hakuho has an 18-1 record against Aoiyama, so it would likely be some kind of beating applied should it come to pass.

Highlight Matches

Chiyonokuni defeats Sadanoumi – Chiyonokuni’s turn around from a really crummy first few days has been dramatic. With his next win, he will secure his winning record and a likely return to the top half of Makuuchi for the fall basho. Both men landed solid mawashi grips early and it was a battle of strength. Several times Sadanoumi nearly shook him off, but Chiyonokuni was able to get him to the bales and lift him out.

Nishikigi defeats Okinoumi – Continued respect to Nishikigi, who is giving it everything he can muster every day. he is now one win from staying in Makuuchi. Nishikigi got inside early and applied the pressure. Okinoumi seems to have really faded, most likely due to injuries.

Chiyomaru defeats Daieisho – Excellent tsuppari battle that locks in Chiyomaru’s kachi-koshi and ensures he will not be back in Juryo in septepber.

Shohozan defeats Onosho – Big Guns picks up his kachi-koshi against Onosho. Although Onosho has been fighting well this basho, this match was all Shohozan from the start.

Tochiozan defeats Takarafuji – Tochiozan shows no signs of slowing down. He is now in double digit wins, and I would guess headed for a special prize. He has had an outstanding basho. Today’s match was another calm, focused effort by Tochiozan. He was able to get inside on Takarafuji, and controlled him from there.

Kotoshogiku defeats Ura – Ura does not even offer a stiff challenge to Kotoshogiku, and I suspect this was a strategic loss to protect himself from further injury. Kotoshogiku’s chances of kachi-koshi once again rise, and it becomes increasingly possible he can retain his san’yaku slot at least one more basho.

Yoshikaze defeats Ikioi – Ikioi really put up an excellent struggle, but like so much of this basho he came out the loser at the end. Ikioi has strength and skill, but his performance has been lagging as late. I would love to see him geanki once more.

Tochinoshin defeats Mitakeumi – In spite of the really great performance Tochinoshin has had the entire basho, he was unable to secure his winning record until today. The bout with Mitakeumi quickly went to the mawashi, and Mitakeumi could not out-muscle one of the strongest men in sumo. Mitakeumi now needs both final bouts to be wins if he wants to stake any claim towards a (in my opinion premature) Ozeki campaign.

Hokutofuji defeats Tamawashi – Tamawashi is now in real danger of losing his Sekiwake rank for September, he must win both remaining matches for a minimal kachi-koshi to defend his position. Today’s bout was all Hokutofuji from the tachiai. Hokutofuji was able to take command, get the dominant pushing attack started and drive Tamawashi out.

Harumafuji defeats Goeido – Goeido is now in serious jepardoy of re-earning kadoban status. His only hope is a final day win against Takayasu. Harumafuji opened strong, and Goeido had no effective counter strategy to stop himself from being driven backwards out of the ring.

Hakuho defeats Takayasu – Well, that was different and kind of wild. Hakuho decided he was going to do a strong-man pushing contest with Takayasu, and won! The Boss deployed a fair amount of nodawa, which put Takayasu first on defense, then off balance, and finally the Yokozuna tossed Takayasu sideways to the clay. Tomorrow Hakuho faces Goeido.

Nagoya Day 11 Highlights


Mitakeumi Kensho Stack

Tachiai Is Not Spoiler Free.

A word to our readers. We dearly appreciate all of you, and are grateful that you take the time to come by and visit our little sumo site. A special thanks to all of you who take the time to add your voice to the community here, and post your comments on our stories. As happens from time to time, we get people who are disappointed that we are reporting facts about the day’s sumo events prior to their chance to watch it either on Youtube or HNK. For that, we are somewhat sorry, but let me explain our policy.

Sumo fans in the west are at a huge time disadvantage. By the time the early birds rise in the US East Coast morning hours, matches have been over for hours, and the results are known to everyone who follows sumo across the world – except for the Americas. We made a decision that we would write and comment about the events that happen in Japan from a Japanese time reference. So for Tachiai, there is no such thing as a spoiler. We know that some of our readers are fairly hard core (as we are) and sometimes stay up overnight to watch the matches as they happen. If we waited until Noon or 1:00 PM Eastern, we are just a few hours away from the next day’s matches starting. Very silly. In addition, some of our contributors are fortunate enough to be at the venue and watch the action live. It would make no sense to limit their ability to contribute and report.

So for now and the foreseeable future, Tachiai is an “as it happens” venue. If you want to savor the anticipation of not knowing the outcome until you see it on video, we ask that you refrain from the temptation to check our site, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook. Because we will post major events more or less as they happen. In the instance of twitter, I follow several dozen sumo fans in Japan, and they are tweeting like mad about the matches as they happen, so the entirety of the day, and everyone’s reactions to them bouts is known as I prepare to write.

Again, thank you everyone who reads the site and visits us, we really do treasure you, but we are going to follow sumo action during a basho as closely as our sleep schedule allows.

Highlight Matches

Takekaze defeats Kotoyuki – With Kotoyuki’s make-koshi confirmed, we can assume he will be relegated back to Juryo, short of some divine intervention. Takekaze inches closer to yet another winning record and remaining in Makuuchi.

Okinoumi defeats Gagamaru – Bloody lethargic match was closer to a pair of tired grizzly bears fighting for a sleeping bag than any kind of sumo. Gagamaru has always be sort of low energy “win by being huge” sort of rikishi, but given the speed and energy of the young ones, he looks tremendously out of place. Back to Juryo with him as well.

Nishikigi defeats Aoiyama – Nishikigi will not surrender to the specter of a return to Juryo. Today he was able to best Aoiyama, who has been on a tear this basho. First the shimpan had to talk it over, but they upheld the gyoji’s gumbai. Given Aoiyama’s mass, there is a real question of mechanical injury on any fall or throw. We hope the big Bulgarian is undamaged, though it looks like his damaged knee hit hard.

Chiyonokuni defeats Takanoiwa – Takanoiwa must be hurt, as I know he can produce some powerful and effective sumo. But it’s great to see Chiyonokuni back in winning form. He looked confident and aggressive today, and kachi-koshi is still within reach.

Onosho defeats Takarafuji – Onosho continues to impress, do not be surprised if he wins yet another special prize for his excellent sumo this tournament. I suspect he will take the “Young Rikishi Punching Bag” slot from Takakeisho for Aki. Victory seemed to come in the form of Takarafuji slipping and falling, but a win is a win.

Tochiozan defeats Chiyotairyu – Tochiozan has quietly been putting up some solid sumo for a few basho now. I expect him back in the joi for Aki given his kachi-koshi, and we shall see how genki he is feeling then. Chiyotairyu is also likely to finish with a winning record, and a modest move up the banzuke for the fall.

Ichinojo defeats Ikioi – Another marathon battle from the JNS Ichinojo, and the crowd was eating it up. Much respect to Ikioi for going the distance on this one.

Tochinoshin defeats Hokutofuji – Brillant session of mawashi combat today, and both rikishi looked very good. It’s always a tough road when someone decides to challenge Tochinoshin in a strength contest. Possibly san’yaku slot for the mighty Georgian if he can pick up a couple additional wins.

Takakeisho defeats Kotoshogiku – Takakeisho very effectively countered the Kyushu Bulldozer’s front attack. Takakeisho took a pounding this basho, but there is and remains a reason he achieved Maegashira 1 ranking. Talk in sumo circles is questioning if Kotoshogiku will retire on his 8th loss and imminent demotion from san’yaku.

Yoshikaze defeats Shodai – Shodai earns his make-koshi, and will have a chance to improve his tachiai for Aki. Shodai’s fundamental mechanics are sound, but some of his execution requires upgrades before he can compete at the next stage of his evolution. Yoshikaze was in control of this match from the start.

Tamawashi defeats Takayasu – After a good opening gambit by Takayasu, Tamawashi rallied and took the match. The deciding fact was Tamawashi’s ability to block Takayasu landing an effective mawashi grip. Well played Takayasu!

Goeido defeats Ura – Solid Ozeki performance from Goeido, damn I am happy to see him booted up in 2.0 mode for multiple days in a row. Ura is a bit banged up from his prior days with the Ozeki / Yokozuna corps, and was looking vague and stiff. Goeido needs to push hard for his kachi-koshi, it would be ugly to have kadoban twins for Aki again.

Harumafuji defeats Chiyoshoma – A solid and decisive win for Harumafuji, he is now safely in kachi-koshi territory. Each basho he seems a bit more injured, and I really want him to be an active Yokozuna for a while longer. But it’s clear the cumulative damage to his joints are taking their toll.

Mitakeumi defeats Hakuho – Zensho is no longer an option, the shin Sekiwake stops The Boss’s winning streak at 25. This is still Hakuho’s yusho in all likelihood, but Mitakeumi scored an important victory that puts his possible Ozeki campaign into an active mode. He needs two more wins to kick it off. If Iksumo’s forecast is correct, Ikioi and Chiyoshoma seem to be the likely donors.

Nagoya Day 11 Preview


Hulk-Smash!

Take Your Turn – Help Me Out

Dear readers, your humble associate editor is stranded at one of America’s scenic airports, praying that he will make hit home tonight. As a result, your preview for day 11 will be fairly short. If you are feeling genki, please feel free to put in your predictions in the comments section below.

Given some of the past forecasts, we have a pretty smart group of readers that are able to handicap a bout. So please feel free to have at it. Just to be clear: serious, accurate, silly or outrageous predictions are all welcome. Except the prediction that upon tying Kaio’s record, Hakuho’s false human skin melts away to reveal he is a terminator, who replaced the real Hakuho during surgery last September. (Yes, I did call that)

Matches I Hope I Get To Watch

Gagamaru vs Okinoumi – Loser takes maki-koshi. My bet is it’s Planet Gagamaru.

Aoiyama vs Nishikigi – Odds are not good that Nishikigi will break his 4 bout losing streak against the Man-mountain.

Takarafuji vs Onosho – First time meet up, both have kachi-koshi already, so sure, why not?

Ikioi vs Ichinojo – Both have maki-koshi, already, so lets hold a contest of rikishi we wish would get their sumo back in order. Ichinojo leads career total 6-3!

Tochinoshin vs Hokutofuji – First time match could be a real point of interest for day 11. Both have a good amount of strength. Will Hokutofuji grapple the big Georgain, or stay mobile?

Takakeisho vs Kotoshogiku – Kind of the WTF match of the day. Angry Tadpole Takakeisho has play time with Ojisan Kotoshogiku. Kotoshogiku seems to be tired of not being taken seriously, so maybe he’s going to really throw down some serious belly bumping goodness. First (and possibly only) meet up between these two.

Yoshikaze vs Shodai – One request for this match. Future oyakata Yoshikaze, could you please help Shodai fix his tachiai? Consider it a gift to the future of sumo.

Takayasu vs Tamawashi – Well, this could get brutal. Both of these guys are big, strong and like to rain blows down upon their opponents. So let’s keep the blood off the already shattered dohyo, guys.

Ura vs Goeido – Ura is like a delightful new toy for the upper ranks. Everyone wants to dance with him. He looked a bit hurt following his day 10 bout, so I hope he is back together and well. I anticipate a Goeido 2.0 stampede charge straight off the line. Worryingly, Goeido is edging closer to going Kadoban yet again!

Chiyoshoma vs Harumafuji – Harumafuji kachi-koshi coming up.

Hakuho vs Mitakeumi – Looking for The Boss to tie Kaio’s all time win record today.

Nagoya Day 9 Highlights


Ura Lines Up

Let The Crazy Train Roll

Where to start with day 9? Possibly one of the most engaging and topsy-turvy days of sumo in a while. If you are the type that does not want “spoilers” before you watch it on TV, best to turn back now.

Ok, we will start with last night’s preview! I do a paragraph on Juryo 5 Asanoyama – seems like he is really chugging along, and he dropped his bout with Kaisei. My apologies to Asanoyama if the sudden, unexpected write up somehow doomed him. At least he secured his kachi-koshi before then. This puts him even with Yutakayama, who won his match today, in the Juryo yusho race.

Day 9 – if you can find it on Youtube, it’s worth seeing in addition to whatever NHK will try to shoe horn into 20 minutes. The Makuuchi was wall to wall amazement, and it’s a shame that those of us in the West are limited on days like today. Start with Kintamayama’s day 9, I advise.

Highlight Matches

Takarafuji defeats Nishikigi – Nishikigi owned this one from the tachiai, but it seems he made a small mistake just as he was taking Takarafuji to the edge, and Takarafuji exploited that mistake and tossed Nishikigi out. Nice okuridashi.

Chiyomaru defeats Shohozan – A real slug fest, they broke contact a couple of times to glare at each other, and launched back into the fray. Chiyomaru managed to pull down Shohozan as he was chasing him.

Aoiyama defeats Chiyonokuni – Originally the gumbai was pointed at Chiyonokuni, but a monoii was called, and the shimpan noticed that Chiyonokuni’s right foot was out as he cocked the throw that won. Chiyonokuni gets a bloody nose for his prize. Aoiyama secures his kachi-koshi, and first class ticket to punching bag status in upper Maegashira for Aki.

Ishiura defeats Takanoiwa – Sadly, Takanoiwa has now secured his make-koshi, but boy did Ishiura look good handing it to him. There is no way of knowing what kept Ishiura in “neutral” for the first few days in Nagoya, but he certainly seems to be on his sumo now.

Ikioi defeats Hokutofuji – Ikioi has been as lack luster as his 2-7 record would indicate, until today. He was crisp, focused and took Hokutofuji to the clay like he knows sumo. I hope this Ikioi sticks around for the rest of the basho, the other one was boring.

Tochinoshin defeats Shodai – Why Shodai? Did you really want a contest of strength against this lumberjack guy? Shodai conceded to a mawashi battle and was doomed from the start. Tochinoshin looks to have overcome his knee problems to once again be somewhat formidable.

Mitakeumi defeats Kotoshogiku – One.. Two.. Henka! Mitakeumi deftly side steps the Kyushu Bulldozer for an easy win. I dig the new NHK “Henka Cam” mode.

Tamawashi defeats Takakeisho – To me this looked like the sequel to Takakeisho’s match with Hakuho. Lots of tsuppari, some taunting, breaking contact and in the end a miserable defeat. Takakeisho will be back in a tournament or two, better and stronger than before. This is just his welcome to the joi-jin parade.

Yoshikaze defeats Takayasu – Takayasu seemed completely unprepared for Yoshikaze’s attack. True to form the Berserker led with his face, but got inside Takayasu immediately, and took control before the big Ozeki could plant his feet and battle back. Very nice win, but drops Takayasu to 7-2.

Chiyoshoma defeats Goeido – A mighty Goeido 2.0 tachiai directly into Chiyoshoma’s too slow attempt to side step the charge. Chiyoshoma somehow managed to convert this mess of a start into a twisting throw at the bales. The shimpan called a monoii, but footage showed Goeido landing a split second before Chiyoshoma.

URA DEFEATS HARUMAFUJI – The Aichi Prefectural Gymnasium explodes with fanfare as crowd favorite Ura finds a way to wrangle the master of winning by speed into the clay. It happens so fast, multiple replays in slow motion are required to take it in. This is Ura’s first kinboshi, and he is clearly overwhelmed. In the post bout interview, he does lose his grip and starts crying. I think even Harumafuji wondered how he did that.

Hakuho defeats Kagayaki – Not quite as good an effort from Kagayaki today, but it looks to me like he lost his footing on the the clay. I will update the Hakuho meter later today, but he is now tied with Chiyonofuji’s 1045 all time win mark. Three more to go and another lofty mark belongs to the Boss.

Nagoya Day 8 Highlights


Hakuho-Salt

Simply, Some Fantastic Sumo!

This is one of the days that I wish the NHK show was more than just highlights. There was a wide variety of great sumo, from the first Makuuchi matches all the way up to the Yokozuna finals.

The young crop of rikishi who are competing at the very top of sumo for the first time are really recusing themselves well. We are not seeing waves of upset wins, that was never in the cards. But we are seeing young men with skill and a lot of determination going into matches they will not win with a plan to compete hard, and delivering a challenge to some of the best sumo has ever seen.

It should be noted that Aoiyama lost his match today against upstart Onosho, breaking his really fantastic unbeaten streak. I don’t really cover Aoiyama much, because he is a very one dimensional rikishi. He will execute his bouts in a given manner, and will rarely stray from that plan. This used to be Mitakeumi’s problem too, but he managed to expand his sumo, and as a result he is consistently fighting at San’yaku level now. Is it possibly for Aoiyama to be viable at higher ranks? I hold dear the notion that any person can adapt, survive and overcome. So for Aoiyama, I think it’s going to be about setting a goal and working hard to attain it.

Hakuho is now one win away from tying Chiyonofuji’s all time win mark of 1045. Short of an asterioid strike or a tragic injury, we will see Hakuho take out Kiao’s (yeah, that guy in the picture) all time high of 1047. It’s difficult to review the entirety of Hakuho’s career without devolving into a rolling mess of superlatives, and this additional record heaps those superlatives ever higher.

Highlight Matches

Takekaze defeats Chiyomaru – Huge effort from Chiyomaru here, really stood up to a pounding delivered by Takekaze at first, then Chiyomaru locked up the veteran to wear him down. They stood chest to chest for an extended period and it was Takekaze who broke the stalemate with a last ditch hip pumping attack. Great great sumo here.

Chiyonokuni defeats Gagamaru – So happy that Chiyonokuni has overcome whatever had him lethargic and losing during the first week. The battle with Planet Gagamaru was excellent effort from both rikishi, and it could have gone either way. Watch this one if you can find it! It’s not common to see Gagamaru this active and committed to battle.

Tokushoryu defeats Sokokurai – Although Sokokurai put up a great fight, Tokushoryu just kept moving forward. This is a fundamental principle of sumo that every Takakeisho learns, but many don’t always put into practice. As my readers may have guessed, I am a big fan of the fundamentals, and when I see them executed well, I call it out.

Takanoiwa defeats Okinoumi – At the bleeding edge of make-koshi, Takanoiwa pulls out a win. It did look like Okinoumi lost his footing and fell, but it was still a win.

Ishiura defeats Ichinojo – Yes yes yes! Sumo has these great big man / little man bouts, and this was about as large a difference as you might ever muster. Ichinojo really had Ishiura on the defense from the start, and it’s fun to see Ishiura deploy his take on Hakuho in a bout like this. Ishiura has now pulled even to 4-4.

Onosho defeats Aoiyama – I am starting to think that Onosho will get to have the “Takakeisho experience” next basho, as this young rikishi keeps turning up the power. The bout was mostly Onosho driving forward after finding a way to get Aoiyama off balance. Very nicely done.

Tochinoshin defeats Ikioi – Crowd favorite Ikioi has been sucking wind this basho, I hope that whatever has him underperforming can be resolved. Tochinoshin took a side step at the tachiai and got behind Ikioi to take control, but Ikioi recovered well enough to put up a bit of a struggle.

Shodai defeats Tamawashi – Shodai was high again in the tachiai, but was able to take charge of Tamawashi and defeat his offensive strategy. Very good effort from Shodai, and I hope we see more from him like this.

Takakeisho defeats Mitakeumi – This match was a joy to watch. We already know that Mitakeumi will be a San’yaku fixture for the next several basho, but it’s great to see just how much effort Takakeisho can bring to a match like this. Turns out, quite a bit! Watching these two with the same build, the same height and the same mawashi color is a bit unsettling. Well done lads!

Goeido 2.0 defeats Hokutofuji – I love me some Hokutofuji (Kaio Edition), but this was Goeido 2.0 time. He exploded off the line and blasted Hokutofuji out. When I talk about Goeido 2.0, it’s this total commitment to his attack plan, with no chance or hope of a defensive move anywhere along the way. Just overwhelm your opponent and accelerate to victory.

Takayasu defeats Chiyoshoma – Chiyoshoma decides to grab Takayasu’s mawashi, and sumo nerds crack a smile. Yeah, let the big man hug you to victory. Thank you Chiyoshoma for doing that.

Hakuho defeats Ura – As foretold by our readers and the Tachiai team, it was all Hakuho. But damn Ura, that was a strong game plan, and I think you actually made the boss work for his win. I am not sure about Hakuho, but I was impressed that Ura was able to operate effectively. Hakuho is, essentially, unstoppable at this point. Yes, the crowd went bannannas.

Harumafuji defeats Kagayaki – The young Kagayaki really did not have much of a chance, but he put up a fantastic fight. As with the Hakuho-Ura match, he made him work for it. Kagayaki is still too inconsistent to be much of a fight, but sumo fans can see that he’s got the spark of potential to be great.